Last night I listened to a screenwriter talk to the writer’s group about creating screenplays. While I don’t write those, there were many things she said that translated to writing in general, and we had a fun, lively discussion. At one point she was talking about rhythm and how important that is. I asked her how rhythm was different from voice. She said that voice is within rhythm.
I confess that several minutes of discussion eluded me because I was still stuck on that phrase.
From a writing standpoint, I know two things. Voice is that distinct flavor of words that mark a story as coming from me. My writing voice is hopefully very different from yours. Okay, I get that point. Rhythm I connect to pacing. If I want tension, I know to create short, snappy sentences and to use punctuation to emphasize the tension. I know to read out loud during the editing phase because the ear hears what the eye misses. I know that careful selection of the right word, the right order of words, the right length of sentences and paragraphs, also create rhythm.
But I’m still stuck on that phrase. Voice is in the rhythm. Does that mean my writing voice has a distinct rhythm, too? That’s a possibility. A friend told me once that my stories suck her in slowly and inexorably until she wakes up to realize she’s trapped and can’t put the book down. That kind of sounds like pacing.
I wonder if rhythm and voice are interchangeable, entwined, two words for the same thing. Or unique tools that I am not learning to differentiate between and use properly.
I wonder if there are definitions of each that I am missing, and because of that, if there is something missing in the writing. I’m not worrying, mind you, not going down that familiar writer’s path of thinking ‘I’m doing something wrong; my writing stinks’. I am curious though. I know I could research this on the internet and probably will at some point. Right now though, I’d rather pause and ponder.
Rhythm, tone, sound, words that sing, that sound right, that flow. Words as the imagery of sound.
Sounds like voice to me.
What do you think? Any words of wisdom?